Rural round-up

October 5, 2019

Reform plans created in silos – Colin Williscroft:

Environmental changes farmers are being forced to deal with were developed separately rather than in conjunction, Beef + Lamb environmental policy leader Corina Jordan says.

At the B+LNZ environment issues roadshow stop in Feilding Jordan said a lot of the work the proposed changes are based on was done in silos, with little or no thought about how they might affect each other or of the cumulative affect of everything happening at once.

“The full impact of the suite has not been considered,” she said.

“That’s not just at a farm level but also a community level.”

Proposals already announced as part of the Government’s Zero Carbon Bill and essential freshwater package will soon be added to by a new biodiversity strategy.

Jordan said it looks like, when coming up with some of the proposals, the experiences of other countries trying to deal with the same problems have not been taken into account either. . . 

Farmers fear the unknown over freshwater water plans – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers are worried about proposed water policy changes, but their concerns are largely based on a fear of the unknown, says Northland dairy farmer Andrew Booth.

In recent weeks social media has been rife with comments from on-edge farmers, and small town halls packed to the rafters as officials have been quizzed over the proposals.

Environment Minister David Parker released them last month, saying the health and wellbeing of water would be put first when making decisions, “providing for essential human needs, such as drinking water, will be second, and all other uses will follow”. . . 

Farmers see authentic strategy – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmers have decried the bad results of 2019 while approving the transparency and logic of the strategy reset, co-operative affairs managing director Mike Cronin says.

Speaking after three of the shareholder roadshow meetings in the South Island he said farmers welcomed the new strategy as authentic and self-explanatory and, therefore, convincing.

“Some want more detail on how we got here but the overall impression is that the strategy is back to basics, co-operative, New Zealand milk and all those good things.” . . 

International wool award for Kiwi:

One of New Zealand’s longest-serving champions for New Zealand wool, John Dawson, has been awarded the prestigious International Wool Trade Co-operation Award.

The award was presented at the 31st Nanjing Wool Market Convention at Qufu in Shandong Province, China.

John Dawson is chief executive of New Zealand Wool Services International and chairman of the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests.

He was one of just six global wool industry leaders to receive the award and the only New Zealander. . . 

Texel stud happy with Scottish influence – Yvonne O’Hara:

The second crop of lambs on the ground from Scottish genetics are looking good, Texel stud breeder and farmer Brent Busby says.

”They came out with a kilt,” he said.

He and wife Heather own the Cromarty Texel Stud and run 110 pedigree registered Texel ewes on 20ha at Myross Bush, Invercargill, with a further 15ha leased.

”We have finished lambing early and have 170% tailed, (including a set of quads)” he said.

Mrs Busby said they imported semen from Scottish studs in 2018 and inseminated 18 ewes. . .

Sheep farmers ‘astonished’ over live export ban proposal :

Sheep farmers have highlighted their ‘astonishment’ over the government’s proposal to put in a place a live export ban once the UK leaves the EU.

Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers is proposing a ban on live exports of farm animals, stating that livestock should only be slaughtered at their most local abattoir.

A consultation will be created to gather opinion on the controversial proposal.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has already criticised the plan, saying that it ‘exposes a serious lack of knowledge’ of how the industry works.

The group adds that there is an ‘absence of awareness’ of transport related welfare research. . . 

 


Submit on Carbon Zero Bill

July 15, 2019

Submissions on the Carbon Zero Bill close tomorrow.

The Bill as it stands is deeply flawed.

It will impose enormous economic costs on the country; severely decrease New Zealand’s export income and GDP; and destroy rural communities.

It will at best have a tiny impact on global emissions and at worst will increase them as food production losses here are replaced by increases from  less efficient producers in other countries.

The more submissions pointing our flaws and suggesting better alternatives, the better the chance of effecting change.

You can make submissions here.

Federated Farmers’ submission is here.

Alliance Group’s submission is here.

Mine follows, you’re welcome to use any or all of it in making your own one.

Comments on the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Bill

  • 1. If we accept the science on climate change we must apply the best science in response to it.

Forestry is a short-term band aid on fossil fuel emissions.

Pine trees are not a long-term solution to meeting our emissions targets. Allowing pine forests to be used as carbon sinks will not encourage the behaviour change required to reduce emissions

Forestry should be used to offset biological emissions not fossil fuels.

Farmers should be able to claim full offsets for all available carbon sinks.

The point of obligation has to be on-farm to achieve behaviour change

Allowing farmers to off-set biological emissions with trees provides them with the incentive plant more.

The Methane targets in the Bill are impractical, without serious reductions to stocking rates (and damaging the NZ GDP). There currently exist no technologies that can meet these reductions as alternatives to reducing stocking rate.

Gene editing should be permitted in New Zealand as a tool to reduce methane emissions and genetic modification should be researched to determine if it has a place in reducing emissions.

  • 2.  If we are following the Paris Accord in reducing our emissions we must follow the Paris Accord in ensuring that carbon sinks do not come at the expense of food production.

Subsidies for planting trees and lower hurdles for foreigners buying farmland to convert to forestry than those who would continue farming are turning productive farmland into forests.

The right tree in the right place is not forests on farmland well suited to raising stock or crops.

If our response is to be sustainable it must be sustainable in the full sense – not just environmentally but economically and socially too.

Turning productive farmland into forestry is already reducing jobs in, and taking people from, rural communities. It is neither economically nor socially sustainable.

Nor is it environmentally beneficial: Environment Commissioner Simon Upton’s report Farms, Forests and Fossil Fuels, found that forests could be used to offset biological emissions but not carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

  • 3. If we are thinking globally and acting locally we must take into account the impact of anything we do not just on New Zealand’s emissions but global emissions.

Food insecurity is one of the possible impacts of climate change.

New Zealand feeds 40 million people and leads the world in doing it efficiently.

Even DEFRA (the UK’s equivalent of MPI) says that it is better for the environment for people there to eat imported lamb from New Zealand than local produce: 

Policies which lead to less food being produced here might lower New Zealand’s emissions but will increase global emissions as less efficient food production is increased in other countries.

Policies which incentivise forestry over farming are in direct contradiction to the Paris Accord. That includes lower hurdles for foreigners seeking to buy farmland for forestry than those who would farm it.

The One Billion Trees programme has not thought past the first 30 years, when high harvesting costs and high carbon prices will be a disincentive to harvest. That will leave a “Green Elephant” – many thousands of hectares of trees that  return no harvest value and no carbon value for their owners, and no economic benefit to New Zealand.

Replacing pastoral land with exotic forests in the name of reducing net emissions risks severely impacting this country’s GDP.

Allowing the carbon price to “drift” upward from $25/tonne will create severe distortions in investment markets. The carbon price as it relates to forest sinks should be capped/regulated to prevent these distortions in the market.

The forest harvesting business should have the same environmental standards imposed on it as pastoral farming does.

The right tree in the right place, off setting emissions in the right way is forestry on land not best-suited to farming and off setting biological emissions not fossil fuel emissions.

  • 5. If we are to take climate change seriously we need the knowledge to make the right choices.

Recycling is promoted as better for the environment, but if the environmental impact of transporting and processing is taken into account, is it really better than sending waste to landfills?

Running electric cars emit no emissions and hybrid cars emit lower ones than petrol and diesel vehicles. But if the entire life cycle of the vehicles and their components including mining the lithium and other minerals for batteries and then disposing of them are taken into account, which is better?

Recommendations:

  1. New Zealand’s response to climate change must be based on the best science.
  2. The Carbon Zero Bill must follow the Paris Accord’s recognition that climate change mitigation is not at the expense of food production.
  3. All impacts of the Carbon Zero BIll must be sustainable in the full sense – environmentally, economically and socially.
  4. The definition in the Bill of “net emissions” only allows for land-use change and forestry. The definition of net emissions in the Bill should be amended to allow for “other forms of sequestration” including regeneration of native bush, smaller scale permanent plantings or soil sequestration.”.
  5. Forestry must not be used to offset fossil fuel emissions.
  6. Farmers must be permitted to offset biological emissions with forestry.
  7. There should be no tax on biological emissions
  8. Gene editing should be permitted in New Zealand as a tool to reduce methane emissions and research into genetic modification should be permitted to determine if it has a place in reducing emissions.

Rural round-up

March 9, 2019

MP says Landcorp is ‘out of touch’ – Sally Rae:

Hamish Walker Hamish Walker Landcorp has rejected a suggestion by Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker that it is “out of touch” with farmers.

Mr Walker contacted the Otago Daily Times after yesterday’s primary production select committee meeting which he described as a “fiery one”.

But Landcorp spokesman Simon King said the company did not agree with Mr Walker’s categorisation of the exchanges “which from our perspective were, for the most part, well mannered” . . 

Lean tools boost performance – Richard Rennie:

Increasing costs, lack of time, poor performance and farmers’ inability to step out of the business prompted a self-help book to give farmers simple tools and concepts to address these issues.

Manawatu management consultant and dairy farmer Jana Hocken has taken some of the principals often used in big multi-nationals and put them into a New Zealand dairying context in her new book, The Lean Dairy Farm.

Hocken’s book is based on the concept of lean, aiming to achieve continuous improvement of things in farmers’ control. . . 

Entries open for inaugural NZ Primary Industries Awards:

Across New Zealand’s agri-sector, it has long been recognised that we need to tell our primary producers’ story better and to celebrate our innovators.  That’s what the new Primary Industries Awards are all about.

“The awards, which will be presented at the inaugural Primary Industries Summit at Te Papa in Wellington on July 1, are a great chance to increase awareness of the vital role the primary sector plays in the economy,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says.

“We want to identify and reward the most successful and innovative primary sector operators, and by promoting those role models we’ll stimulate greater involvement and interest in the primary sector from graduates, investors, politicians and the media.” . . 

Barking drones used on farms instead of sheep dogs – Maja Burry:

Robots aren’t just stealing human jobs, they’re after man’s best friend too – now there’s a drone that can bark like a sheep dog.

The latest drone developments come as more farmers have started using the technology for work on the farm in recent years.

Drone specialist from Christchurch-based DJI Ferntech, Adam Kerr, said the uptake in drones for agricultural uses had now made the National Agricultural Fieldays in Hamilton one of the biggest events in the company’s calendar.

“The past two years have seen farmers embrace drone technology to help with those jobs that are dirty, dangerous or just plain dull,” he said. . . 

2019 Northland Dairy Industry Award winner living the dream:

The 2019 Northland Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners realised while studying at university that the office life wasn’t for them, so they made the decision to chase the New Zealand rural life dream and haven’t looked back.

Colin and Isabella Beazley were named the 2019 Northland Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at Toll Stadium in Whangarei last night, and won $7,927 in prizes plus four merit awards. The other major winners were the 2019 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year Lorraine Ferreira, and the 2019 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year, Daniel Waterhouse. . .
Defra have no Brexit impact assessment for sheep farming

The government has not conducted any analysis of the potential impact of leaving the EU on British sheep farming, it has been revealed.

Defra has admitted, after a freedom of information (FoI) request, that it did not hold any information or documents relating to an assessment of the impact of Brexit on sheep farming.

A response from the department added: “We can confirm that to the best of our knowledge the information is not held by another public authority.” . . 


Rural round-up

June 30, 2018

Councils’ reliance on rating slammed as ‘abhorrent’ – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne says councils need new ways to diversify their funding and the reliance on rating is “abhorrent” and needs addressing.

In her report to the rural lobby organisation’s national conference, Ms Milne said that would be particularly helpful for councils with a small rating base.

Central government must also make sure councils were reasonable in how they rated “and not bleed the public for projects which may never get off the ground or pet ideas that only serve the ideologies of the few rather than the many”.

“There is a belief we are all rich farmers but this is just a myth,” she said. . . 

Government negligent over PSA claim:

A landmark decision released by the High Court today has found that the Ministry of Primary Industries (formally MAF) was negligent in allowing the deadly PSA disease into New Zealand in 2009, which devastated the kiwifruit industry.
Kiwifruit Claim Chairman John Cameron said that it was also hugely significant for the kiwifruit industry and other primary industries that the Court also established that MPI owed a duty of care to kiwifruit growers when carrying out its biosecurity functions.
“We completely agree with the Judge when she says that the wrong to the 212 kiwifruit growers should be remedied. . .
Psa Litigation:
MPI has received the High Court’s decision on the long-running Psa litigation and we are now carefully considering its findings and implications for current and future biosecurity activities.
The 500 page document traverses events dating back 12 years, pre-dating the establishment of MPI, and requires a thorough examination. We cannot rush this process.
Once we have completed consideration of the judgment, a decision will be made on whether to appeal. That decision must be made by the Solicitor-General, not MPI.
Until then, we will be making no further comment. . .

Early winners are still leading – Hugh Stringleman:

Hugh Stringleman looks back on the initial decade of the Young Farmer Contest and catches up with some of those who took part.

Winning the Young Farmer Contest’s national honours opened many doors to farming success and primary industry leadership for champions from the first decade.

Between 1969 and 1978 competition was very keen among thousands of Young Farmers Club members nationwide to achieve a place in the four-man grand finals, as they were then.

Every member was encouraged to participate to build public speaking skills, increase their industry knowledge and try to progress through club, district, regional, island and grand finals. . . 

Fonterra says climate change policy shouldn’t reduce methane emissions to zero – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group said it supports a target aimed at mitigating and stabilising methane emissions, but not seeking to reduce them to zero, in its submission on the productivity commision draft report on transitioning to a low-emissions economy.

“Agricultural emissions make up approximately half of New Zealand’s emissions and we support policies being set to help transition agriculture to a low emissions economy,” it said in the recently published submission. Submissions on the commission’s draft report – presented in April – were open until June 8 and the commission aims to present a final report to the government by August. . . .

AgResearch purchases full ownership of Farmax:
AgResearch has taken full ownership of agricultural software company Farmax Ltd by acquiring the shares of Brownrigg Agriculture, and Phil Tither, of AgFirst.
Farmax has been operating for 15 years and has already been used to add value to more than 5000 farm businesses in New Zealand and overseas. The software is used by farmers and their advisors to analyse, monitor and review farm operations to determine the production and economic outcomes of various managerial options. . .

Gallagher’s takes supreme ExportNZ award:

Gallagher Group has taken out the supreme award for the 2018 Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards for Auckland and Waikato regions.

Judges were impressed with the way the Hamilton-based business has become the leading technology company in animal management, security and fuel system industries over the past 80 years.

Founded in 1937, Gallagher’s was initially a 10-person business which designed and delivered New Zealand’s first electric fence solution. Today, it employs 1100 people across a global network of 10 countries through three business units. . . 

British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to deliver high quality food, says Michael Gove

NFU President Minette Batters has welcomed comments made by Michael Gove in his keynote speech at the NFU’s Summer Reception at the House of Commons on 25 June. 

Defra’s Secretary of State for food and the environment said he had ‘heard, received and understood’ the NFU’s call on government to uphold the high-quality produce that he said was a ‘hallmark of British agriculture’ in post-Brexit trade agreements.

He said that British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to fulfil the national and global demand for high-quality food. . .

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Rural round-up

December 26, 2017

‘Drag ‘n drop’ grazing now a reality – Nigel Malthus:

The idea of virtual fencing has been around for 20 years, but AgResearch believes its time has come and will soon start testing an Australian product.
Farm systems scientist Warren King, of AgResearch Ruakura, says it has been watching the technology for years and now believes the eShepherd product from Melbourne company Agersens is “the real deal”.

New Zealand’s Gallagher Group is a lead investor in Agersens, with marketing manager Mark Harris on the board. . .

Recent heat boost for lavender crops:

A South Canterbury lavender grower is experiencing an early start to the season.

Rob Martin, of Limestone Valley Estate, near Cave, said his crop of Pacific blue lavender was two weeks early this year, and his other varieties were following close behind.

He put the ”very early” start down to the year’s weather patterns, which were ”excellent” for lavender.

”[There was a] sudden heavy wet winter and spring and that immediately changed to hot weather,” he said. . .

Mozzarella plant on track for May start – Alexia Johnston:

Clandeboye’s $240million mozzarella plant is on target for commissioning in May.

AThe project, which is the third mozzarella plant for Fonterra’s Clandeboye site, is three-quarters complete and has already created 75 new jobs.

A further 25 employees will join the team in February.

Clandeboye operations manager Steve McKnight was among those watching progress.

”There’s a real buzz in the air on site as we have more people on site and the plant takes shape,” he said. . .

Decades of service:

The 2017 NZ Winegrower Personality of the Year goes to the NZSVO and its departing Executive Officer, Nick Sage and the recently announced life member, Rengasamy Balasubramaniam – better known as Bala.

There seems to be a common thread when you look at the retiring committee members of the NZSVO. All seem to have landed the job after being lured to an AGM by the offer of free wine. . .

I can’t wait for when we don’t have any possums – Andrew Austin:

The rabbits populating my neighbourhood seem to have begun breeding like, well, rabbits.

They are all around – on the roads, in the gardens, in the paddocks. They are a menace. As I am not a gun owner, I simply have to live with them.

The dogs give them (literally) a run for their money, so at least they don’t come too close to the house.

But even worse than rabbits are the possums. I drive along a one kilometre-long shared rural driveway to get to my house and every night I see at least one possum waddling along the road. Workmates and others tell me that I should aim for them and run them over. I have tried, but always seem to pull out at the last moment. . .

Gove tells Brits to be more patriotic about cheese buying habits

Brits who are worried about the price of their foreign produce going up after Brexit should be more patriotic about their choices, according to Michael Gove.

Mr Gove, who attended the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) on Wednesday (20 December), has criticised claims that the price of cheddar cheese will go up by 40 percent if Britain leaves the EU without a trade deal.

The Defra Secretary said Brits should instead focus their priority on British cheddar. He said that, in a WTO scenario, if cheese prices rise steeply then the British public should buy more British cheese. . .


Profiting from not producing

December 20, 2009

The following letter arrived in an email.

My correspondent reckons it’s genuine, if it is, I wonder what the Minister wrote in reply?

Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London
SW1P 3JR

16 July 2009

Dear Secretary of State,

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs.. I would now like to join the “not rearing pigs” business.

In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?

As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven’t reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is – until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.

If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don’t rear?

I am also considering the “not milking cows” business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current DEFRA advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?

In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits. I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.

Yours faithfully,


Brit report finds faults in food miles

August 13, 2009

A report for Britain’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) debunks the idea of food miles as an indicator of sustainable development.

Findings included:

*  the  impacts of food transport are complex, and involve many trade-offs between different factors. A single indicator based on total food kilometres travelled would not be a valid indicator of sustainability

 * Food transport accounted for an estimated 30 billion vehicle kilometres in 2002, of which 82% are in the UK.It also found production methods mattered and, for example, it can be more sustainable in energy effciency terms, to import tomatoes from Spain than to produce them in heated glasshouses in Britain outside summer.

* Using more local food might increase food miles because fully laden large vehicles would be replaced by more vehicles carrying less.

The report supports research by Lincoln University which found lamb, milk and fruit produced in New Zealand and shipped to Britain produced less CO2 than the same products grown in Britain.

Food miles is a simple concept but this study shows sustainability is complex and can’t be based on only one factor.


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